News About and For IEA Members.

Got Ideas? →
Submit an IEA Reporter item.

IEA Events →
View the complete calendar.

Four IEA Members Selected for Immersive, Four-Week Program in Mozambique

May 24, 2024

In less than a week, four Idaho Education Association members will board a long-haul flight to embark on a life-changing experience: An opportunity to study, observe and create in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, one of the most celebrated ecological spaces in the world.  

Amber Armstrong

“I still can’t even really believe it!” says Amber Armstrong of the Boise Education Association.  

Armstrong will be joined by Lisa Tabereaux of the Idaho Falls Education Association, as well as Rylee Devito and Jaraka Ball of the BEA. They were selected, along with other educators from throughout the state, to participate in the Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad.  

The program is offered through the Center for Global Engagement at Boise State University and funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s International and Foreign Language Education program. During their time in Mozambique, the educators will immerse themselves in Portuguese while learning about the country’s culture.  

This particular program has an emphasis on sustainability, so the Idaho educators will have an opportunity to draw from the lessons of Gorongosa — an area that was decimated by Mozambique’s civil war, which lasted from 1977 to 1992. During the fighting, the country lost 95 percent of its large mammals.  

When the conflict ended, restoration work began. In 2004, the Mozambican government invited Idaho Falls native and internet pioneer Greg Carr to partner on the conservation process through his foundation. Boise State University and the Carr Foundation began a research collaboration. 

Over the past 30 years, elephants, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest and many more animals have returned to the park — including lions, which made a reappearance on the park’s floodplain in 2007.

Lisa Tabereaux

“I really can’t imagine seeing lions and elephants in the wild,” Tabereaux says. “And from what I hear about the nighttime, it gets so loud in the park — they say nighttime is just magical.” 

Developing Real-World Curricula 

As part of the program, each educator must complete a project to be used in classroom instruction. Devito, who teaches 8th– and 9th-grade science at Riverglen Junior High in Boise, is looking forward to studying how ancient geologic processes have contributed to geopolitics and geologic processes. For example, the formation of the Great Rift Valley, which spans an area from Lebanon to Mozambique, contributed to the dispersal of civilization. “All of those pieces help create a more complete perspective and a more complete understanding of natural resources and sustainability,” she says. “It’s like pieces to the puzzle.” 

Armstrong, who serves on IEA’s Board of Directors, says Gorongosa’s focus on conservation and sustainability will tie in nicely with her Montessori teaching at Liberty Elementary in Boise. “Montessori is very peace-centered, and we always present big ideas before we get to the small ideas,” she says. “The idea is that we are part of this huge universe and earth, and we’re very tiny within it, and our job is to protect our tiny place and protect the world.”  

Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique will play host to four Idaho Education Association members in June.

Tabereaux, who teaches 6th grade math and science at Sunnyside Elementary in Idaho Falls, sees clear parallels between Mozambique and Idaho. Mozambique has developed some of the most heralded conservation practices in the world by involving local communities; lessons like that can apply in the Gem State, too, she says.  

“How do we maintain the natural beauty in Idaho with all the people who are coming into our state?” she asks. “Almost everyone who comes here loves to recreate outdoors. It’s such a wonderful place to do that, but as it becomes more popular, how can we do it responsibly? How can we use our resources to benefit and improve the economy for the people who live here?” 

The Portuguese instruction is particularly interesting to Ball, who will also study organisms and how they react in a biodiverse environment. She teaches sixth grade in the dual-language program at Whittier Elementary in Boise, and many of her students speak English as a second language.  

Jaraka Ball

“It’ll be helpful for me to learn another language so that I can kind of get that student perspective of what it’s like to learn a language that you don’t know,” she says. “I’m excited to get ideas for ways that I can improve my own teaching methods for teaching English.”

‘Teachers Are Amazing People’ 

Tabereaux, Ball, Armstrong and Devito may work in separate schools, but they share one thing in common: They did not expect to be chosen for this program. They want their success to buoy other educators. 

“Teachers are amazing people,” Devito says. “But sometimes, we’re our own worst enemy. We think that we’re not as good as the person across the hall or at another school. But all teachers are pretty amazing, and just putting yourself out there not only allows everyone to see how amazing you are, but also creates an opportunity for growth — even if you’re not selected for that particular opportunity.”  

Rylee DeVito

The educators will be in Mozambique throughout the month of June. For more information about the program, visit Boise State’s Center for Global Engagement. Applications for the 2025 program will open in the fall.  


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This